Monday, August 11, 2014

Ruby Crest Trail Car Shuttle

I get a lot of requests from folks interested in a shuttle for a Ruby Crest Trail trip, and I've met some exceptionally cool people that way. Unfortunately, I'm pretty well stapled to the ranch these days (check out my Facebook page for Kennedy Ranch) and, as much as I'd like to do it, can't often do shuttles any more.

Cowboy John to the rescue!  Call John Collett at Cowboy John Tours, 775-753-7825, and see if he can help you out.  You might just get an earful of local lore on the way.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A little Ely love

Rode the 9th annual Fears, Tears and Beers Mountain Bike Enduro in Ely this weekend - every year I wonder how it can possibly get better, and it does.  Consistently.

This year there were something north of 90 riders, with a good mix of pros and utter gapers like me. They've built some nice trail in recent years, in part with money raised through this race, and the route includes more and more fun, swoopy singletrack every year. It also includes the annual race-start tour of the Jailhouse Casino.

Fears, Tears and Beers - Photo by John Shafer
Photo by my friend John Shafer, Photo-John of Consumer Reviews fame, whose photos of this race and other adventures are well worth finding.

There's no other way to put it - the riding in Ely is worth the drive and it gets better every year. Whether you're down for the race (Father's Day Weekend every year, and yes the race is kid-friendly) or just trying to beat the heat with some mountain riding, it's hard to go wrong by throwing your bike in the truck and heading to White Pine County.

For those interested in making the trip, Ely native and avid rider Kent Robertson has a quality blog going that has excellent info for would-be MTB visitors. Check it out at www.stuckinthespokes.com.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

We Like It This Way

I had a rare day working at my desk today, and in an effort to keep from having to do precisely that, I checked out my "spam" folder and saw that I'd gotten a message from a guy who wanted me to write a piece for his blog.  Kind of cool... glad I didn't just empty the folder like I've been known to do.

He has a pretty nifty premise - he's asking bloggers from around the country to talk about adventures in their home states.  Here's what I wrote for him:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

International Car Forest of the Last Church, Goldfield, NV
When I was a kid, somewhat more than 50 years ago, there were about 300,000 people in Nevada.  We didn’t have a big enough population to warrant two representatives in Congress, or even statehood for that matter.  We had lots of silver, though, and the Union needed it for the war, so with a wink and a nod they let us join the America club.  Not that it mattered much to the cows and sagebrush that filled the high desert back in the day.

There are a lot more people in Nevada now, but luckily for the rest of us they mostly live in Vegas.  It takes a little more effort than it used to, but you can still plop yourself in the middle of 200 square miles of nothing.  Real Nevadans like it that way.  Go ahead and dis our state as a wasteland.  Speed on down the interstate.  We don’t mind.
Wendover Will

Nevada echoes… with history, with loneliness, with the ghosts of broken dreams.  With mile after mile of dirt roads and strange, friendly, self-sufficient people who’ll gladly let you through their gates to access some remote stretch of mountain snow, but who’ll warn you that you ought to be packin’ if you go.  Mountain lions, you know, a guy got killed up there a while back.  That’s the story at any rate, and news is so rare in these parts that “a while back” may have happened in the 1800’s.
Photo by Kenny Sheen
I mean, really – you want mountains?  We got mountains, and most of them require some serious map-and-compass skills to adequately explore.  The guidebook-dependent ecotourist need not apply.  There are 300 named mountain ranges in the state – more mountains than in any state other than Alaska.  For my money, my home range, the Ruby Mountains of Elko County, is the prettiest around.  But high deserts are about jewels of oases, and every range in the state has trickling seasonal streams with shady caves of cottonwoods at their bases, bumblebees lazily buzzing in the dappled light.  You don’t have to make it all the way to the Rubies to find Nevada paradise.  Go out and find a special spot of your own.
Seitz Lake, Ruby Mountains
The way to see Nevada, frankly, is to throw away the guidebooks.  They don’t do it justice, anyway.  Get yourself a well-stocked pickup (water, food, camping gear, repair kit, some select maps, extra fuel, a big dose of self-sufficiency) and head out.  “Where does this road go?” is one of my favorite games, and Nevada is the best state in the country to play it.  You never know if you’re going to end up at a cattle trough, an old hydroelectric plant, a mining camp or a washed-out bridge.  Bring some wine and somebody who likes to enjoy a good Nevada sunset, and find a nice high spot to watch the desert turn to night.

Independence Range
Now – keep in mind that people can and do manage to get lost and sometimes killed this way, so take your own safety seriously.  The cavalry may eventually show up – eventually – but even giving directions to AAA in this state is a challenge.  The nearest cross-street may be 89 miles away, assuming that you even have cell coverage to call them (fat chance, generally speaking).
The premise of the #makeadventure theme is to come up with a top five list of things to do and places to see in my state.  My best answer – I don’t know yet, but I look forward to finding out.  No doubt it’s at the end of some washboard road somewhere, in some little bar in a ghost town, complete with friendly fossils holding down barstools.

A few ideas for my next Nevada adventures –

-Dig for opals at the mines near Denio.  Spend some time at the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge while I’m there, see if I can spot some mustangs. 

-Follow the Pony Express Trail.  Bike or horse, whichever works. 

-Look for the old concrete arrows that pilots used to use to navigate cross country.  They’re still there, spaced 10 miles apart, all across the northern part of the state. 

-Go wander out to the bristlecones near Wheeler Peak, see if I can guess which ones were around at the time of Christ. 

-Find the funky – the one-horse towns, the International Car Forest, the showers at Ely’s Hotel Nevada, the Brothel Cookbook, Pioche, the locals just about anywhere. 


Take this sign seriously, folks!

The vastness and small beauties of our high desert will grow on you.  Nevada is windswept, sun-baked, snow-choked, humbling, filled with birdsong.  Spend some time here, and you’ll understand why we’re happy when folks stay on the interstate.



++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I had a link to his blog, but I just checked it and it's been hacked. So, I've sanitized this for YOUR PROTECTION. Just like they do to the toilets in Tonopah. You're welcome.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dreaming dreams

Ama Dablam at dawn from Camp 1
I had an opportunity last week to speak with a class of sixth-graders at Flagview Intermediate School.  It's a pretty fun gig… they do a study program using Nepal and mountaineering as a springboard for learning, and at the end do a few experiential things with the kids to help bring it home.

Somewhere, somehow, the teacher of the class learned that I'd been on a couple of climbing trips to Nepal, and asked me to come in to speak with the class about my experiences there as part of the study program.  I'll be honest - there are a few people in this town MUCH more qualified to speak on this subject than me, both about Himalayan mountaineering and about Nepal in general.  People who've lived there for months and are far more in tune with the society there.  People who've lived with and studied with Buddhist monks.  People who've been adopted into Nepalese families.  Those kinds of folks.  And, of course, one of the local heliski guides guides Everest.  And has done some amazing mountaineering on Lhotse.  'Nuff said.  If nothing else, I guess I'm proof that lack of qualification doesn't necessarily preclude a person from world travel.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the real mountaineers and Nepal experts were out mountaineering and traveling the world, so the kids got stuck hearing from me.  I had a ball - great students and very interested in the subject.  Hopefully I convinced some of those kids that chasing dreams is a great way to spend a life.

Anyway, here's a link to the article they did about the program in the local paper, and a few of the photos I shared in the presentation. Pretty pictures.  We met some very awesome folks over there, and were really blessed in the adventures we shared.



Gokyo and Cho Oyu



Refrigerator delivery in the Everest region. Everything has to be delivered by porters or pack animals. And they deliver a lot - there's even a pool table at Dingboche, a few weeks' hike from where the road ends.



Rest day at Ama Dablam camp one.



Our cook Guittry hanging out with the cuongma at Ama Dablam base camp.  Cuongma are close cousins to the Himalayan snowcock found in the Rubies.  Unlike the birds here, though, cuongma aren't afraid of people - they aren't hunted there - and will very casually wander in and around camp all day long. Cool.




If you want flour in the Everest region, you'll need to thresh the wheat yourself, like these young men in Dingboche.



Lobuje East.  We had stellar conditions for this climb. Couldn't possibly have been better. Unfortunately, it didn't translate into stellar conditions on Ama Dablam, and nobody got above Camp 2 while we were there. 



Memorial chhorten for an Italian climber near Macchermo.





Dawa, our sirdar and The Man Who Can Make Things Happen.



So many beautiful mountains yet to climb...